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YMMV / House on Haunted Hill (1959)

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Did Frederick really kill his previous wives? He's certainly abusive towards Annabelle, and the fact that three of his previous wives have vanished or died under unusual circumstances is very suspect, but Annabelle and Dr. Trent certainly have reason to lie.
    • If you believe the accusations are true, it throws Annabelle's character into a more sympathetic light — if a woman's controlling and jealous husband bumped off his previous three wives, can you really blame her for wanting to kill him first while she still had a chance?
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Frederick Loren is an eccentric millionaire who hosts a party for his wife Annabelle at a haunted house, with promises that any of the guests who make it until morning will receive 10,000 dollars. Seemingly paranoid about Annabelle's intentions. it turns out she is trying to murder Loren. Loren, however is aware of this, knowing one of the guests is her partner in crime seeking to murder him. Manipulating all the guests with fake hauntings, and faking his own death, Loren proceeds to murder Annabelle's lover and uses a skeleton to fool her into falling into a vat of acid before promising to give a full account to the authorities—albeit while concealing several details to make himself look more sympathetic.
  • Memetic Mutation: It's very difficult to talk about the film without mentioning the old housekeeper gliding around, usually invoking that she appears to be on roller skates. Even the (very negative) New York Times review from 1959 makes note of it.
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  • Narm: Annabelle's death. Seriously, lady, ever think of fighting that skeleton and maybe NOT screaming and backing toward the vat of acid?
  • Narm Charm: By modern standards, this movie is absolutely ridiculous. But between the spooky atmosphere, fun set-up, and absolutely diabolical performance from Vincent Price, there's still plenty to enjoy, and it's considered a horror classic.
  • Nightmare Fuel: For an older, low-budget production, the movie sets up a good deal of tension and atmosphere near the start, which pays off with a surprisingly effective jump scare when Nora explores the basement.
  • Older Than They Think: While often accused of being a cheap cash-in on the original version of The Haunting (1963), in reality it predated that film by four years, and even the novel The Haunting of Hill House (upon which that film was based) by a couple of months.
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  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The subplot of Ruth getting a blood stain on her hand that never washes off never amounts to anything except helping build suspense, and we get no resolution.

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